'Human error' in the VAR room led to the technology – or the people operating it at least – missing Isaac Hayden's handball against Watford, which led directly to Fabian Schar's first-half equaliser in Saturday's 1-1 draw.
The Magpies had been trailing since Will Hughes' second minute opener, but a scrappy finish from Schar shortly before the break allowed them to go into the break level, and while there were no real shouts for handball at the time, replays did show that the ball had struck Hayden's arm before making its way to the Swiss defender.
Replays suggest NUFC equaliser should have been disallowed for Hayden handball (under new laws). Not sure why VAR has not intervened.— Craig Hope (@CraigHope_DM) August 31, 2019
The new handball rule states that, whether intentional or not, if contact between the ball and an attacking player's arm leads directly to a goal, then play should be pulled back. A similar incident saw Aymeric Laporte penalised to rule out Manchester City's phantom winner against Tottenham in the 2-2 draw at the Etihad, when VAR intervened for a handball incident that eluded almost everyone on the pitch.
Many were left asking why the same standard wasn't applied to chalk off Schar's goal, and it seems as if the answer is as simple as it comes - and raises a few more questions about VAR.
Re the #NUFC goal v #WatfordFC today. Have had it confirmed that VAR did simply miss the handball in build up to Schär’s goal & it should have been ruled out. Too late now obviously, but reminder VAR not immune from human error.— Adam Leventhal (@AdamLeventhal) August 31, 2019
The Athletic's Watford correspondent Adam Leventhal reports that VAR just failed to spot the incident, and that the goal would have been ruled out had it been caught.
Given that the technology was introduced to ensure such incidents weren't overlooked, it has raised further concerns over the technology, which has already been lambasted by many - with Newcastle boss Steve Bruce the latest to call it into question.
“I thought Isaac just went for a challenge and I thought it was an aerial duel," Bruce said after the game, as quoted by the Northern Echo. "But it did come off his hand, did it?
“Look, it's difficult. We're going to have many issues with VAR. It's not the fixed answer. I'm not so sure I'm a big lover of it, to be perfectly honest, but we've got it and we have to see how it goes.”